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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 409-416
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item School Curriculum
 Header Item Teaching Council of Ireland
 Header Item School Transport Provision
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Staffing
 Header Item Third Level Funding

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 774 No. 1

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Written Answers Nos. 409-416

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

 409. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will support a matter (details supplied). [38113/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The decision on eligibility for a student grant is a matter for the relevant grant awarding authority. The Deputy will appreciate that in the absence of all of the relevant details that would be contained in an individual's application in relation to means, residency, nationality and previous academic attainment, it would not be possible for me to say whether or not a student would qualify for a grant.

If any of the persons whose income is under consideration received a gift or an inheritance in the reference period, these are included in reckonable income, unless in the case of an independent student, the gift or inheritance was between the applicant and his or her spouse, civil partner or cohabitant; or in the case of a dependent student, the gift or inheritance was between parents or to the applicant from his or her parent(s). The students referred to by the Deputy should each complete a Gifts and Inheritance Form (available from their grant awarding authorities) unless the gift or inheritance is covered by one of the exceptions outlined above. Decisions on eligibility for students renewing an existing grant are a matter for their existing awarding authorities.

School Curriculum

 410. Deputy Nicky McFadden Information on Nicky McFadden Zoom on Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he has considered the submission made by the Irish Human Rights Commission on the issue of civic, social and political education; if the subject will remain a compulsory State examination subject in the new junior certificate curriculum; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [38122/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The submission made by the Irish Human Rights Commission will be included in the decision making process for Junior Cycle reform. The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment provided its advice to me on Junior Cycle Reform in November 2011. Within that advice is the specification of 24 statements of learning which junior cycle students should learn. Included among these statements are a number that have a human rights perspective. For example, the students will "value what it means to be an active citizen, with rights and responsibilities in local and wider contexts". Since November 2011, consideration has been ongoing in relation to the implementation of junior cycle reform and I expect to complete this process in the near future. Therefore no decision has yet been made regarding specific subjects.

Teaching Council of Ireland

 411. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will clarify, whether under existing legislation, a teacher who is not registered with the Teaching Council, if the Department is obliged to pay for their services from September onwards.  [38222/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn It has been the policy of my Department for some time that only qualified and registered teachers should be employed by schools. This is set out most recently in Circular 31/2011. Current recruitment procedures direct schools to ensure that teachers proposed for appointment to publicly paid posts must be registered with the Teaching Council and have qualifications appropriate to the sector and suitable to the post for which they are proposed.

Only where an employer can satisfactorily demonstrate that every reasonable effort has been made to recruit an appropriately qualified and registered teacher, may an unqualified or unregistered person be recruited pending the recruitment of an appropriately qualified and registered teacher. This provision must be inserted into the employment contract. The employer must repeat the process to recruit an appropriately qualified and registered teacher within the period of any such contract and in any event within the school year. An unregistered person employed pending recruitment of an appropriately qualified and registered teacher at any point after September 2010 should have no expectation of continued employment beyond the period of time that it takes the school to source a registered teacher.

Where a registered teacher allows their registration to lapse, or an unregistered person is employed in a teaching post in a recognised school then, following commencement of section 30 of the Teaching Council Act 2001, that person may not be paid out of monies provided by the Oireachtas beyond the very limited specific circumstances to be set down in Ministerial Regulations. Until section 30 of the Teaching Council Act is commenced, the Department or a VEC is not prohibited from paying an unregistered person recruited in accordance with the published procedures. It is the intention of the Minister to commence section 30 during the 2012/2013 school year.

School Transport Provision

 412. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn in relation to the eligibility for school transport to provide the precise collection and drop-off point for children attending their nearest education centre as determined by his Department in respect of schools (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [38231/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon Bus Éireann has advised that as there are over 30 school transport services, carrying almost 900 children operating to the schools referred to by the Deputy, the complete list of pick up and set down points is not readily available. If the Deputy has a particular route in mind Bus Éireann will be requested to forward the information directly.

Schools Building Projects Status

 413. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if his attention has been drawn to the problems associated with building a new school block for a school (details supplied) in Dublin 8 which remains partially built and the third contractor still not on site to complete the long awaited school building; the steps he and his officials will take to ensure speedy completion of the building works which started three years ago; the reason the cheapest contractor is always engaged when the experience at the school shows that this is not always the most prudent; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [38246/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I am pleased to advise the Deputy that my Department has recently authorised the issue of the letter of intent to the recommended contractor. This contractor must now produce certain documentation such as a bond, insurances, tax clearance etc. Subject to receipt of all the required documentation and provided no further issues arise, it is anticipated that the contractor will commence on site later this year. Compliance with public procurement procedures requires that the tender from the most economically advantageous tenderer (i.e. the preferred bidder) be examined in the first instance. It is not possible under national/EU procurement rules to pass over the preferred bidder and proceed to award a public contract to one of the other (more costly) tenderers.

  Question No. 414 answered with Question No. 356.

Special Educational Needs Staffing

 415. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will consider the position of a special needs teacher (details supplied) in County Kerry. [38277/12]

 424. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will provide details of the way the teaching panel system works, including details of the eligibility criteria for teachers who wish to join the panel, whereby permanent teaching vacancies are filled from the panel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38343/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I propose to take Questions Nos. 415 and 424 together.

The core function of the redeployment arrangements is to facilitate the redeployment of all surplus permanent teachers to other schools that have vacancies. The redeployment of all surplus permanent teachers is key to the Department's ability to manage within its payroll budget and ceiling on teacher numbers. Thereafter, schools are required under the panel arrangements to fill permanent vacancies from panels set up of eligible fixed-term (temporary), substitute and part-time teachers. For the 2012/13 school year there were close to 1,700 such teachers on these panels. The detailed arrangements for panel access for fixed term (temporary), substitute and part-time teachers are set out in Department Circular 0012/2012 which is available on my Department's website.

Third Level Funding

 416. Deputy Paudie Coffey Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn his plans to establish a review for the years 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 into the expenses incurred by the president's office of every institute of technology and university in the State, to ensure that correct tendering processes are being followed, and that other procedures in terms of the way in which moneys are being spent are being adhered to; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [38282/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn My Department and the Higher Education Authority (HEA) are committed to ensuring the efficient and effective spend of all resources within higher education. While it would clearly not be feasible for my Department or the HEA to monitor or approve all individual levels of expenditure within the higher education sector, there are clear accountability and governance procedures in place within institutions, and reporting mechanisms to me, as Minster, and to the Oireachtas. In particular, under both University and IOT legislation, the President is the Accountable Officer and is answerable to the Committees of the Oireachtas in relation to the disposal of monies. The legislation also provides that the C&AG undertakes annual audits of the financial statements of universities and institutes of technology which includes a review of expenditure incurred by the institutions, and the C&AG reports regularly on these audits.

Furthermore, and in line with practice in the public and private sector, Codes of Governance have been agreed at a sectorial level which provides for a range of effective measures around procedures for procurement, tendering, financial reporting, internal audit and travel. This further increases the accountability of institutions, by requiring the establishment and implementation of specific mechanisms in these areas. Each university and institute of technology is required to submit to the HEA an annual statement, confirming that all appropriate procedures and measures in relation to the above have been adhered to. In light of the above I have no plans at present to establish a review such as that referred to by the Deputy.


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